Thursday, April 25, 2013

From Destruction to Beauty: MOPS Devotional

I go to a MOPS meeting on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays of the month, and am in charge of devotions for this year, so on those Thursdays I'll be posting here what I say there.

It's been a difficult few weeks, hasn't it, with all of the unexpected cold, snow, and ice?  It's April.  We're supposed to be getting spring fever and letting our kids outside and running to the basement when we hear the tornado siren.

But instead, we've had an extended winter.

What we've all experienced is having to change our plans.  We've all had to surrender control.

I've been feeling a little out of control lately.  It seems like I just can't quite get everything all together.  My mind feels like a jumbled mess--maybe it looks like my kids' rooms.  I feel out of sorts because I don't quite have a routine--or, rather, I don't have the routine that I want to have.  And so, it seems that every day is a day to change plans, sometimes minute by minute.  I think I will have some time to sit and write, because the kids are playing upstairs.  I get settled in, write a few sentences, and then they magically appear and need one thing after another.

I keep thinking that if I could just have an hour, two hours, three hours, or if I could just have an inspirational spot to sit with the perfectly comfortable chair, and if everything was just so, then I'd be able to write well and write a good quantity.  Or, if I could just stick to a schedule, I'd have my house clean all the time, my meals planned and cooked, and I'd set a beautiful table and meal time would be fantastic.

But nothing ever really happens like we expect.  Life always has interruptions.

And when the unexpected and unanticipated happens--whatever it is, we get frustrated and grumpy.  Maybe we even want to pull out our hair and scream and cry.  Our lives may have been going along smoothly, just day by day, normal life, and then something happens, like the storms we had.  We had plans to go bike riding or play at a park or plant gardens or put away all the snowpants and boots.  And then we had to change our plans.  And we had to wait.

When one of the storms hit, I wrote that we should think of it not as "always winter and never Christmas", but instead, "always Christmas", because just like an unexpected storm, Jesus came into the world unexpectedly.  He threw off the plans and the future that people thought was there and took it in a different direction.

And really, isn't that all of life?  How many of us expected that we would be exactly where we are in life today?  I certainly didn't.  I didn't know where I'd be, but Iowa certainly was not anywhere on my radar.  Maybe you expected to have fewer kids or more kids.  Maybe you expected to be in a career you love.  Maybe you expected...anything more, anything different than the reality of life.

And so, I tried to look at the storms differently.  I decided that since there was nothing I could do about it, I wasn't going to feel irritated and I wasn't going to complain.  I was in awe of the beauty that the storms brought, and tried to see it despite the destruction that also came. And I think it worked.  I looked out at the snow and felt calm and peaceful, if only for a short time.

It is those glimpses of peace and beauty of which we are most often unaware, because we have to look harder for them.  When we are disappointed, upset, or angry and it seems as if destruction surrounds us, we wonder if beauty can even be seen there.

But it can.

The plans we had were just delayed, our lives were tossed around, but they still went on, and soon, we'll put the storms behind us and enjoy what we've been waiting for.   The snow has mostly melted.  This weekend, temperatures are supposed to get into the 70s.   The long winter will give way to a beautiful spring, just as beauty can come out of our own trials in life--no matter how big or how small.

I want to share one verse with you, Revelation 21:5, and then I will play you a song that I think goes along very well with everything we've experienced the last few weeks, and gives us hope when we have bad times in our lives as well.  The verse is:  And the one who was seated on the throne said, "See, I am making all things new."

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